Two innings into his 2021 season, Jacob Barnes has been underwhelming for the New York Mets. His five earned runs have given him an early 22.50 ERA. I know we shouldn’t judge anyone on just two appearances. However, the question with Barnes has always been his career totals.
Barnes came into the season with a lifetime 4.36 ERA in the big leagues through just under 200 innings pitched. A horrific season in 2019 that saw him turn in a 7.44 ERA. This came in a year he split with the Milwaukee Brewers and Kansas City Royals. He was almost equally as bad with each franchise. A season later, he had a 5.50 ERA with the Los Angeles Angels.
The Mets don’t have room for these mop-up innings from Jacob Barnes
Barnes hasn’t pitched in any high-leverage situations yet which suggests the Mets do know what he is: a mop-up type guy. This could work in some bullpens. With the Mets and all of the question marks they have in their relief corps, it doesn’t really work.
The club is already using Jeurys Familia in a lot of those game-finishing situations in losses or chances to eat innings where they are well ahead. Only because he’s making significantly more than Barnes does his roster spot look safe.
Far from alone, the Mets also don’t seem to trust Robert Gsellman. The long-man in the bullpen, he didn’t get an opportunity to pitch until the second game of their doubleheader against the Colorado Rockies. The team hasn’t been in any situations where his role was needed. Still, after several seasons of allowing Gsellman to take the mound regularly, it’s clear he’s being pushed aside.
Who could the Mets turn to as a replacement for Jacob Barnes?
Barnes lacks minor league options which means he’d need to be designated for assignment. Fortunately, the Mets do have a lot of arms they could and maybe should turn to.
Relievers with some big league experience include Daniel Zamora, Tommy Hunter, and our dear old friend Jerry Blevins. Only Zamora is on the 40-man roster. Stephen Tarpley, the arm they have called up as the 27th man in doubleheaders, is another possibility. All of them make me squirm a little.
The starting options are a little more promising. Could Jordan Yamamoto find himself pitching better as a reliever? What about Sean Reid-Foley or Sam McWilliams? I would like to see what either of those newcomers could accomplish.
Further down the line, we could even see Joey Lucchesi or David Peterson in the bullpen.
I know we shouldn’t do anything drastic after a single bad outing. Barnes also got lit up at Coors Field—a ballpark even the greatest pitcher could get hammered; unless your name is Jacob deGrom.
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With a lot of confidence, I do think Barnes is only a temporary arm for the Mets bullpen. Until someone impresses the Mets enough at the alternative site or they’re left with no other option but to move on, Barnes will be a guy we see pitching when the Mets are behind. Fortunately, it hasn’t been too often in 2021.